Recycling Christmas trees is a good alternative to landfills
Taking down the Christmas tree is just one task after the holiday season. For those with a real tree, knowing what to do with it can be as simple as placing it near the sidewalk. In most states, this may be the gift that keeps on giving.
Taking down the Christmas tree is just one task after the holiday season. For those with a real tree, knowing what to do with it can be as simple as placing it near the sidewalk.
In most states, this may be the gift that keeps on giving.
Discarded Christmas trees can be picked up curbside for recycling through regular garbage collection services in different cities. The trees are often shredded for use as compost or mulch which is provided free to residents and non-profit groups for gardening and landscaping.
In many states, natural resource workers collect whole trees from predetermined drop points to place in lakes and waterways as fish habitat.
In parts of Louisiana, for example, Christmas trees are used to shore up eroded coastal areas and to rebuild wetlands. In Jefferson Parish alone, approximately 5,000 trees are collected each year for such efforts.
Some zoos, including petting zoos, accept chemical-free Christmas trees or ornaments for feeding some animals, such as goats, pigs and elephants, and for sensory and entertainment purposes for others, such as kangaroos, lions, camels and rhinos.
Or, there’s no place like home. Discarded trees may find their final resting place in a corner of the backyard as a shelter and feeding area for birds.
Be sure to remove ornaments, lights and garlands. Placing a tarp around the tree before bringing it outside will prevent the frustration of having to vacuum up the pine needles afterwards.
Some websites offer a way to search for local tree recycling programs. Home Depot stores in some areas also hold tree collection events.
But don’t wait too long after Christmas because withered trees can be fire hazards. It is also dangerous to try to use a fireplace or woodstove to burn parts of the tree, as the oils they contain could cause chimney fires.
Perhaps the worst place to send abandoned live Christmas trees is to a landfill, as the materials buried there decompose into methane, a greenhouse gas, considered more harmful than carbon dioxide.
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John Raby, The Associated Press